Hamilton equals Senna’s record of F1 wins at Suzuka

Lewis Hamilton achieved his hero’s record of 41 Grands Prix victories with a commanding drive at Suzuka.

The Mercedes driver won the Japanese Grand Prix on the opening lap thanks to a better start from his team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Just a week on from the struggle around Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit, normal service was resumed for Mercedes as Hamilton led home Rosberg by 18.9 seconds, scoring their eighth one-two of the season.

By winning the Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton has now equalled the three-time world champion Ayrton Senna with 41 victories and from his 162nd start, one more than the Formula 1 legend.

The championship leader is now 48 points clear of Rosberg with 125 available from the remaining five races, with Sebastian Vettel falling 59 points adrift after the Ferrari driver could only manage third.

The key moment came in the opening seconds, as Rosberg and Hamilton ran side by side through the first corners.

With the preferable inside line at Turn 2, Hamilton was able to edge Rosberg aside, leading to the latter running marginally off track, allowing Vettel and Valtteri Bottas to sweep by into second and third place.

Aside from one complaint shortly before his second pitstop after 31 laps about “vibrations so big” that left him “struggling”, Hamilton was never troubled through to the chequered flag.

Rosberg limited the damage to his team-mate by passing Bottas on lap 17 before the undercut worked on Vettel 13 laps later come the second round of pit-stops.

Behind Vettel was team-mate Kimi Raikkonen as Ferrari made its own undercut work on Bottas who, from third on the grid at the start, had to settle for fifth place.

Williams team-mate Felipe Massa’s race was ruined in just a  few hundred metres as the passing Daniel Ricciardo’s left-rear tyre collided with his own front-right.

Both drivers suffered punctures, with Massa also requiring a new front-wing from damage sustained on the slow crawl back to the pits.

Massa finished P17 and two laps down, with only Manor duo Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens and late retiree Felipe Nasr behind him.

Ricciardo was P15 and a lap adrift, a week after finishing second in the Singapore Grand Prix.

Red Bull team-mate Daniil Kvyat – whose car was completely rebuilt following his heavy crash in qualifying, requiring a new chassis, power unit and gearbox – endured a frustrating race and multiple issues as he could only manage P13.

From P13 on the grid, after serving a three-place penalty for causing a collision with Massa in Singapore, Nico Hulkenberg put in a fine sixth in his Force India, gaining ground at the start and then jumping both Lotus drivers at the first round of pit-stops.

Despite the Enstone-based team’s ongoing financial woes, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were seventh and eighth, with the Toro Rosso pair of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr rounding out the points scorers.

Verstappen had started P17 after serving his own three-place penalty for stopping in a potentially dangerous place in qualifying after his car suffered an electrical failure.

Sainz had his own moment in the Japanese Grand Prix, hitting a bollard on the entry to the pitlane, forcing his pit crew into an unexpected front-wing change. He then lost out in a late battle with Verstappen.

As for McLaren, on Honda’s home track, Fernando Alonso could have done no more to suggest he wants a swift exit from his three-year contract…

During the race, Alonso bemoaned his lack of pace, saying “it’s embarrassing, very embarrassing”, before later labelling Honda’s power unit as “GP2” standard, followed by an exasperated cry of frustration.

Alonso eventually finished P11, with Jenson Button P16.

So not the most exciting Japanese Grand Prix but for championship leader Lewis Hamilton, this was an important victory. He matches his hero’s achievement and extends the points advantage over Mercedes team-mate.

Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka after 53 laps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h28m06.508s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    18.964s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    20.850s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    33.768s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    36.746s
6    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India/Mercedes    55.559s
7    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m12.298s
8    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m13.575s
9    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m35.315s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren/Honda    1 Lap
12    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
13    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
15    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
16    Jenson Button    McLaren/Honda    1 Lap
17    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    2 Laps
18    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari    2 Laps
19    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    3 Laps
20    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    Not running

Drivers’ standings:

1    Lewis Hamilton    277
2    Nico Rosberg    229
3    Sebastian Vettel    218
4    Kimi Raikkonen    119
5    Valtteri Bottas    111
6    Felipe Massa    97
7    Daniel Ricciardo    73
8    Daniil Kvyat    66
9    Romain Grosjean    44
10    Sergio Perez    39
11    Nico Hulkenberg    38
12    Max Verstappen    32
13    Felipe Nasr    17
14    Pastor Maldonado    16
15    Carlos Sainz    12
16    Fernando Alonso    11
17    Marcus Ericsson    9
18    Jenson Button    6
19    Roberto Merhi    0
20    Will Stevens    0
21    Alexander Rossi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    506
2    Ferrari    337
3    Williams-Mercedes    208
4    Red Bull-Renault    139
5    Force India-Mercedes    77
6    Lotus-Mercedes    60
7    Toro Rosso-Renault    44
8    Sauber-Ferrari    26
9    McLaren-Honda    17
10    Marussia-Ferrari    0

Next race: Russian Grand Prix, Sochi. October 9-11.

5 thoughts to “Hamilton equals Senna’s record of F1 wins at Suzuka”

  1. Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday to equal the late Ayrton Senna’s tally of 41 Formula One victories and move 48 points clear of Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg with five races remaining.

    On a sunny afternoon at Suzuka, in marked contrast to the dark and tragic 2014 race that he also won, the double world champion seized the lead from pole-sitter Rosberg at the start and never looked back.

    The win was the Briton’s eighth of the season, with Rosberg anchoring the eighth one-two finish for dominant Mercedes as the champions returned to form after a mysterious dip in Singapore last weekend.

    Rosberg took the chequered flag 18.9 seconds behind Hamilton with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, the winner in Singapore, finishing third in an exact repeat of last year’s top three at Suzuka.

    Hamilton now has 277 points to Rosberg’s 229 with Vettel dropping back on 218 but refusing to give up his championship hopes until mathematically ruled out.

    Mercedes, who have now won 11 of 14 races, moved a step closer to retaining their constructors’ title with 506 points to Ferrari’s 337.

    “For me to come here to a race where I used to love watching Ayrton drive, to match his wins… I can’t really describe it. It doesn’t feel real at the moment,” said a delighted Hamilton after saluting the fans from the podium.

    If last year’s post-race ceremonies were muted in the aftermath of the late Jules Bianchi’s horrific and ultimately fatal accident, only a brief microphone failure prevented Hamilton from expressing his joy on the podium this time.

    “I am so happy right now,” he said, before Vettel poured champagne over his rival’s head. “The team did a fantastic job this weekend, it’s great to be back up here as a team with a one-two.

    “The car was beautiful to drive today.”

    Rosberg had gone into the first two corners side by side with Hamilton but was forced wide to avoid a collision and dropped to fourth as Hamilton made his getaway.

    “Lewis just got a better start, fair play and it was a good battle into turn two,” said the German. “He had the inside and just made it stick and that was the end of it there. Then it was great to fight to second place.

    “Second was the best possible after that so I’m happy with the fightback.”

    Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fourth with fellow-Finn Valtteri Bottas fifth for Williams.

    Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg was sixth for Force India, with the Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado seventh and eighth in a boost for the financially-troubled team.

    Dutch hotshot Max Verstappen who turns 18 next week completed his last race as a 17-year-old in the points, taking ninth place for Toro Rosso ahead of Spanish team mate Carlos Sainz.

    There was disappointment and dismay for McLaren at engine partner Honda’s home track, with Spaniard Fernando Alonso making his feelings painfully clear for the Japanese manufacturer on the way to 11th place.

    “I am getting passed down the straight like a GP2 (car),” he exclaimed angrily after two cars went past, one on each side. “This is embarrassing, very embarrassing.”

    The double world champion returned to the theme later as Verstappen passed without problem to drop him out of the points: “GP2 engine, GP2 engine,” he exclaimed.

    Source: Reuters

  2. Mercedes driver Nice Rosberg admitted that he ‘had to avoid collision’ with Lewis Hamilton during the opening lap of the Japanese Grand Prix. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Nico Rosberg feels he had to take avoiding action to prevent a collision with his Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix.

    The front row starters went through Turns 1 and 2 side by side after Hamilton made the better start from second on the grid, and the world champion emerged in the lead as Rosberg ran slightly off track on the outside and slipped to fourth at Turn 2.

    “I’ve not seen it on TV, but it was close,” said Rosberg. “I had to avoid a collision, but it’s difficult to comment.

    “The car is really back to its best – it was a pity to lose out at the start.

    “It was a battle round Turn 1 and 2, and it got very close on the exit of Turn 2 so I had to back out of it and that lost me the race.

    “Lewis just got a better start. In Turn 2 he had the inside and he made it stick.”

    Hamilton said he suffered with understeer as the two Mercedes fought over the lead.

    “I didn’t feel it was particularly that close,” said the winner. “The inside line is the inside line so it was my corner.

    “We were very close – I was understeering, running out of grip.

    “I imagine Nico ran out of road but that is what happens when you’re on the outside.”

  3. Fernando Alonso found the Japanese Grand Prix “embarrassing” given McLaren-Honda’s poor performance and answered equivocally when asked whether he was tempted to walk away from Formula 1 before 2016.

    The two-time F1 world champion was heard lambasting Honda’s straightline speed over team radio, comparing it to a “GP2 engine”.

    Having finished 11th, he explained his comments as frustration at racing with drivers and cars that seemed much slower in corners but that overtook him on the straights.

    “I feel embarrassed when I’m racing sometimes because it’s frustrating when you see the other cars making mistakes, going off the racing line, getting sideways,” said Alonso.

    “You look in the mirror on the straight to look for them and they are already side by side with you.

    “The deficit we have on power is like another category.

    “It’s tough to race like this and it’s frustrating, but on the positive side both McLarens finished the race so hopefully we have some useful information from that mileage.

    “Next year we must change a lot of things on the power unit and on the structure so it will be a medium-term job and for next year, not the next races.”

    On Saturday Alonso dismissed suggestions from his former manager Flavio Briatore he would be looking for a drive outside F1 if McLaren’s form did not improve.

    After the race, when asked directly if he would be in F1 next year he answered: “I don’t know, there are still five races to go now and I think we need to improve the situation and make sure we are competitive and on top of our problems.”

    However, he then added: “Next year is what we are looking for and my intention is to stay and win.”

    Asked if he had been trying to send a direct message to Honda with such public criticism at its home race, Alonso replied: “I think they know, there is no need to say any messages”.

    He reiterated his belief that the Honda project will come good given time.

    “I think this is the only team that can challenge Mercedes in the near future,” he said.

    “But right now it’s tough times because we don’t have the toys to fight with them.

    “Everyone is making sure we know the problems and we are deep into the solutions that we will find for next year.

    “I’m optimistic. The first results of next year seem OK so let’s wait and see.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  4. With double world champion Fernando Alonso complaining about a lack of power from the Honda engine, McLaren boss Ron Dennis was left feeling unhappy with his star driver. Autosport.com has the full story.

    McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis is to take Fernando Alonso to task internally over his outspoken remarks and a lack of professionalism following Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix.

    At engine supplier Honda’s home circuit Suzuka, Alonso made his feelings on the V6 system – which has been lacking all season – extremely clear.

    Early in the race, Alonso bemoaned his lack of pace, saying “it’s embarrassing, very embarrassing”, before later criticising the Honda engine as “GP2” standard, followed by an exasperated cry of frustration.

    Suggested to Dennis that with Honda’s top brass present Alonso was sending out a message with his critical asides in the race, Dennis added: “I’m not going to condone those sort of things.

    “It doesn’t show the professionalism I would like all our drivers to show.

    “He is in the car, he is frustrated, and his remarks to the technical staff were not a particularly constructive way to communicate with everybody.

    “The way for me to deal with drivers is through the management channels of Eric [Boullier, racing director] or in certain circumstances to talk to them myself.

    “But whatever I choose to do, however it is done, it remains a team matter.”

    Post-race, when asked directly if he would be in F1 next year even though he is in the first season of a three-year deal with McLaren-Honda, Alonso replied: “I don’t know.

    “There are still five races to go now and I think we need to improve the situation and make sure we are competitive and on top of our problems.”

    Clouding the issue, the double world champion then added: “Next year is what we are looking for and my intention is to stay and win.”

    Asked for his thoughts on Alonso’s remarks, Dennis said: “I don’t know what he means by that comment.

    “I spoke to Fernando earlier today, he’s got a contract, he understands the contract. I’m surprised at the comment.”

    Dennis could at least understand Alonso’s “frustration” as he himself is disheartened by what has unfolded over the course of this year.

    “Anything that’s coming out of our drivers at the moment has its origins in frustration, disappointment and demotivation. Yeah, we’re all demotivated,” added Dennis.

    “I still can’t understand why everyone doesn’t appreciate you’re not going to win a world championship if you have a second-string engine [as a customer team]. It’s just not going to happen.

    “Therefore we have to go through the pain, we have to go through this learning curve and get a competitive engine.

    “That’s not a derogatory comment against Honda. The president of the company, the president of R&D, the president of Honda Motor Company are totally committed.

    “They understand what needs to be done, they’re increasing resources, putting more money and effort into it, and we will get there.

    “It’s just a bit painful at the moment.”

  5. Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo thought a gap would open as he clashed with Felipe Massa which resulted in a puncture on the opening lap. Autosport.com has the details.

    Red Bull Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo admitted he was counting on the gap between Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen opening up in their Japanese Grand Prix startline clash.

    Ricciardo’s left rear tyre made contact with the right front of Massa’s Williams as he tried to squeeze between it and the Ferrari after making a faster start at Suzuka.

    “It was another blinder,” said Ricciardo of his start.

    “It was actually too good. I didn’t know where to go.

    “I saw the gap and figured it would open up – that once I was there they’d see me in the mirrors and give me some space.

    “I haven’t seen a replay so I don’t know. I guess there wasn’t enough room, or they kept closing on me.

    “It was a shame as I think I would have comfortably had both of them before Turn 1.”

    The Australian had to do a full lap with a puncture and could only recover to 15th place, struggling with some floor damage.

    Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Massa triggered the contact.

    “It was a shame as Ricciardo had a good start and went for the gap and Massa moved a little bit,” he said.

    “It was a racing incident and the result was a puncture at the worst possible time.”

    After its second and sixth places in Singapore a week ago, Red Bull did not score at all in Japan.

    Daniil Kvyat started from the pitlane following his enormous qualifying crash, and finished 13th after multiple problems.

    As well as being ordered not to use overtaking engine settings to avert a potential reliability issue, Kvyat also struggled with what Horner described as “asymmetric brake temperatures” throughout.

    “I was just a sitting duck all race,” Kvyat said.

    “I had problems with the brakes, the tyres and no overtake button, so it was complicated.

    “P13 is quite shit. I’m not so satisfied.”

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